September 27, 2018

Automation Best Practices - Checklist for Success

Automation Solutions
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Over the last decade, we have met with companies all shapes and sizes and talked to them about their goals for automation. Some of them succeed, while others fail. Whilst success can be based on a lot of factors (see this eBook for more information), we have created an infographic detailing the best practice answers to some of the most common questions asked by companies when setting out on their automation journey.

The common questions we have found are; how do businesses get started with automation, what skills do staff need to automate, how involved should the IT department be, how do you ensure high quality automation, what should we tell staff about automation, how important is execute level sponsorship, what kind of investment is needed to try automation and what is needed to scale automation across a company. Read the answers to these questions below:

The Checklist for Success:

Best practice answers to eight of the most common questions that we get in relation to automation.

How do companies get started with automation?

  • Begin with a stable process that isn't expected to change anytime soon.
  • Minimise spend on technology. Start with a cloud-based solution.
  • Have a clearly defined success criteria as early as possible into the journey.

How involved should the IT department be?

  • Do not keep IT in the dark, there is a sure way to have them oppose your automation goals.
  • Keep automation as a business-led initiative, but leverage IT for expertise in technology and security.
  • Clearly differentiate between the types of problems that are solved with automation vs. traditional IT projects like ERP and core systems.

What skills do staff need so they can automate?

  • Technical skills, data analysis, process analysis, solution design and process management.
  • Skills can be acquired or learned, but it requires a shift in what is expected of finance staff.
  • Start by engaging business analysts with your company as they might be the ideal process automators.

How do you ensure high quality automation?

  • Encourage the people doing the automation to take the time to really understand the underlying process at a business and technical level.
  • Ensure that processes, when automated, are thoroughly tested and reviewed. Many companies will parallel run for a period of time before stopping the manual process.
  • Standardise how you automate by using procedures, naming conventions and other documentation.

What should we tell staff about automation?

  1. Spout "augmentation" rather than automation. Explain with it will improve productivity 10x rather than replace people.
  2. Explain the goal is yo automate away boring, mundane work and allow more time for interesting analytical tasks.
  3. Educate and train staff to become automators and process managers rather than "doers".

How important is executive-level sponsorship?

  • Absolutely critical, as with any significant change to organisational structure and mindsets.
  • Executive leadership will convince people to pause and take time out of their day to think about and implement automation.
  • Without executive level support, people will simply stick to their day-jobs and automation will fail.

What kind of investment is needed to try automation?

  • Very little. Use cloud technologies and pick a simple PoC to start.
  • Average spend in the first 3 months is less than $20K.
  • Your staff will need to invest some of their time. On average, this is around 2-4 hours per week for the first three months (for staff involved with automation).

What is needed to scale automation across the company?

  • A skilled and motivated team capable of identifying processes and automating them.
  • Tools to help standardise your automation project such as checklists and questionnaires, ROI calculators, project management templates etc.
  • A handover and support model that allows people running the automated processes to get help and enables agile response to process changes.

You can download the image below:

Automation best practices checklist

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